How Women Decide To Leave An Abusive Relationship Explained By Model
November 14, 2007
Two University of Illinois scientists have found a way to help health-care providers, social workers, and abused women's families understand the stages that these women go through when deciding to leave their partners.
"The process of leaving an abusive relationship can take years, and there may be many attempts before a woman finally leaves permanently. It can be a frustrating experience for the people who are trying to help her, especially if they don't understand the stages that women go through before they are able to leave," said Jennifer Hardesty, a U of I assistant professor of human and community development.
Hardesty and graduate student Lyndal Khaw, who adapted Prochaska and DiClemente's Stages of Change model for the study, said there are clear markers that help identify where an abused woman is in the process of leaving. However, not all women leave in the same way, they said.
"Some women get hung up moving from the thinking stages to the action stages," Khaw said. "Especially in the later stages, there can be a lot of back-and-forthing. If a woman is driven to react in a dramatic way, she may even leapfrog over a stage."
Khaw worked with 19 mothers who were divorcing or seeking to modify their custody or child support arrangements. The participants indicated that their former husbands had committed at least one of seven acts of physical abuse more than once.
The women's turning points and trajectories were plotted on blank maps of the model, which includes five stages:
precontemplation, when women are often in denial about the abuse
contemplation, when mothers begin to realize they are in an abusive relationship
preparation, often marked by a pileup of abusive episodes and noticeable effects of the violence on the children
action, for which three trajectories
maintenance, a process in which women reclaim their identity and often continue to deal with an ex-husband's attempts to control them through their children.
Medical News Today: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com
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